“Fan fiction is what literature might look like if it were reinvented from scratch after a nuclear apocalypse by a band of brilliant pop-culture junkies trapped in a sealed bunker. They don’t do it for money. That’s not what it’s about. The writers write it and put it up online just for the satisfaction. They’re fans, but they’re not silent, couch-bound consumers of media. The culture talks to them, and they talk back to the culture in its own language.”
—Lev Grossman, TIME, July 18, 2011
The term fan fiction (sometimes spelled as one word and also initialized as FF) conjures up images of fat, sweaty, pimple-faced geeks living in their mother’s basements eating Cheetos, and hacking out derivative tripe from a lap top, or typewriter inspired by their favorite video games, comic books, TV shows, movies, novels, etc. But the question is why. Why would something so pure, so devotional, carry such an ugly stigma?
In my humble opinion, fan fiction is one of the purest and greatest homages to the stories that move us, and help shape our outlook on life. It is a means of interacting with our favorite stories. I’ve written a fair share of fan fiction and for me, it is a means of communicating with the author. It is my way of telling him or her that not only do I love the world he or she created, I’ve also taken up residence in that world and I’m shaping things as I see fit—hopefully he or she won’t mind (unless she’s Anne Rice, more on that later). I can still appreciate the story as it was previously written. In fact, it is my love and appreciation for the original story that guides me to interact with it. Fan fiction speaks to the characters of a story; it explores the world created by the artist, the author, game designer, etc. in ways the author may not have thought of. Currently, you’ll find books written in the Mass Effect Universe (a popular video game franchise developed by Bioware). This is fan fiction, it explores the universe in a way the games don’t and expands on them. There are TONS of books written in the Star Wars canon and Star Trek canon. All of it is fan fiction; it’s just published fan fiction authorized by George Lucas and Rod Roddenberry (Gene Roddenberry’s son. But if you were a Trekkie, you’d know that).
Now yes there are some authors who don’t particularly care for fan fiction. To each his own. I know that George RR Martin and Anne Rice are among those who aren’t fans of the practice (we love you anyway guys). Well, fan fiction is a derivative work under US Copyright law. There are some authors who like it and are flattered and excited by the practice. JK Rowling is one such author as is Stephanie Meyer (NO STEPHANIE MEYER JOKES PLEASE. I’M NOT A HUGE FAN EITHER, BUT WE DON’T WANT TO GET SUED!!!!). In fact the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy started out as fan fiction of Twilight. How do you like them apples?
A great website for fan fiction is fanfiction.net. They pretty much have everything except that which had to be removed due to lawsuits—pesky lawsuits. If you’re into fan fiction, you may already be aware of the site, but if not, you can click the link and peruse through the selections. I’m partial to the video game inspired fiction.
Well, that’s it for now; short, sweet and my two cents. I know we’ve been lax about updating on a regular basis. That will change. We’ll be updating on a weekly basis from now on. Expect to see some work from our friends and entries on everything from minorities in science fiction to why I think the traditional book (i.e. paper) isn’t going anywhere anytime soon and can actually coexist with the e-book. Feel free to read, like, or even comment. Maybe you hate fan fiction. Maybe you hate me for even bringing it up. Well, comment. We’d love to hear from you.
Later writers! RONIN STAND UP!!